With a history of around 2500 years, Constanta is truly an ancient metropolis. Originally called Tomis, the city was founded by Greek colonists in the 6th century BC, and conquered by the Romans in 71 BC. The city was renamed Constantiana by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, and later shortened to Constanta during the Ottoman era.
Constanta lies on the western coast of the Black Sea, and lies at the crossroads of several important commercial routes–making Constanta Romania’s largest sea port. It is the capital of Constanta County and the largest city in the Dobruja region of Romania. This ancient city is now an important cultural and economic centre, with historic monuments, ancient ruins, and fascinating museums. Constanta is known for its archaeological treasures and the enchanting atmosphere of the old town centre with its Roman ruins, historic buildings, and mosques. The city’s open-air restaurants, shops, and nightclubs, as well as its proximity to sunny beach resorts make Constanta the focal point of Black Sea coastal tourism. A popular vacation destination for locals, Constanta is a wonderful port for those seeking fun in the sun as well as a historical back drop. While in the area, take the time to explore nearby traditional villages, vineyards, and the Danube Delta–a bird lover’s paradise.
Due to Constanta’s proximity to other major tourist destinations, the area receives a significant number of visitors a year, who come to visit the city’s many monuments and attractions. With its white sand beaches, numerous historical and archaeological sites, interesting cultural attractions and lively nightlife, Constanta has something for everyone.
The Black Sea beaches are the biggest tourist attraction for Constanta. With a large and shallow beach right in the middle of the city, tourists don’t even have to venture outside to enjoy the warm temperatures. Although most popular during the summer months, Constanta’s waters generally stay warm until late in the autumn season. Tourists can enjoy swimming and sunbathing, or the more adventurous can try their hands at a variety of water sports, such as waterskiing and sailing. Still don’t see what you’re looking for? Multiple nearby beach resorts, such as Neptun, Eforie, Olimp and Mangalia, offer beach holidays as well as luxurious spa treatments.
As a prime tourist location, one should be wary of pickpockets and swindlers. Police impostors have been known to approach tourists, demanding to see their passports–which they then run off with. Use reasonable caution when approached by strangers if you choose to explore Constanta on your own.
- Getting around
Constanta’s public transportation system consists of 17 bus lines and two trolleybus lines. In the past decade, the city has replaced 90% of its aging bus fleet and painted them in bright pinks, yellows, and greens. Double-decker buses can also be seen during the summer months, providing service to and from the city’s resort. The buses and trolley buses operate as one system, with interchangeable tickets. Route maps can be found at yellow kiosks near the bus and trolley bus stops, and tickets can be purchased at kiosks with the RATC (Regia Autonoma de Transport in Comun Constanta) logo.
Trains are also a good option for travelling, particularly if you are exiting the city on a day trip. An express train service (INTERCITY) is offered between Bucharest and Constanta every 45 minutes with a journey time of 3.5 – 4 hours. If you are in Constanta during the summer months, consider hopping on one of the daily trains offering service every half-hour between Constanta and nearby Mangalia, stopping at all of the Black Sea resorts along the way.
Constanta is a great walking city, and strolling is a nice way to view the various neighbourhoods up close and personal. Bicycling is another wonderful option; although there are not designated bicycle paths, it is safe to ride bicycles on the main roads. From June through October one can rent a free bicycle in Parcul Tabacarie–just show your passport and receive two hours of free rentals, with an optional two hour extension.
- Beyond Constanta
One of the most sought-after resorts on the Black Sea coast is just a few kilometres north of the city. Mamaia is a narrow stretch of fine-sand beach between the Black Sea and Lake Siutghiol (“Lake of Milk” in Turkish). A favourite weekend get-away for the locals, Mamaia is home to many hotels and sporting facilities, a casino, and a wide variety of nightclubs and restaurants within a stone’s throw of the beautiful sea. Between Mamaia and Constanta you can find the Satul de Vacanta amusement park with rides, a bowling alley, an open-air bazaar and multiple restaurants. Though sometimes crowded, the park has its charm. One can easily reach Mamaia by taxi.
Mangalia is another day trip from Constanta, and can be easily reached via train. Just 40 kilometres south of Constanta, Mangalia is a lovely spa resort with abundant historical charm, including the ruins of the Callatis Fortress from the 7th century BC and the 16th century Esmahan Sultan Mosque (the oldest mosque in Romania).
- Local activities
As the biggest green space in Constanta, Parcul (Park) Tabacariei is one of the best places in the city to take a relaxing stroll. With plenty of green areas and playgrounds for little ones to stretch their legs, this park is great for having a picnic. The park also overlooks the beautiful Lacul Tabacariei, a lake where one can launch a canoe or kayak for some time on the water.
The Great Mahmudiye Mosque
The Great Mahmudiye Mosque was built in 1910 by King Carol I, and is the seat of the Mufti–the spiritual leader of the 55,000 Muslims who live in the region. This beautiful building uses both Byzantine and Roman architectural elements, and the main centrepiece of the interior is a gift from Sultan Abdul Hamid–one of the largest Persian carpets in Europe. Five times a day, the muezzin climbs the 140 steps to the top of the minaret to call the faithful to prayer.
Folk Art Museum
This unique museum offers over 16,000 exhibits from all regions of Romania. From folk costumes and jewellery to the interiors of traditional Romanian peasant homes and household items, the museum’s displays aim to show the visitor the traditional ways of life within various parts of the country. The museum gift shop is a great place to purchase local folk arts and crafts. English tours are available.
- Local cuisine and drinks
Romanian cuisine is a unique mixture of Oriental and European flavours, resulting in delicious food offerings. Local specialties of Constanta include kebabs and polentas called sarmale or mamaliga (corn meal with various added ingredients). For a fast food fix, try shawarma (a tasty mix of grilled chicken, salads, French fries, and sauces wrapped in a thin pancake). For drinks, consider trying tuica, a strong fruit brandy, or one of the region’s quality wines.
- Where you are docked
The Port of Constanta is the largest port on the Black Sea, at a length of about 30 km. The Port consists of Constanta North Port and Constanta South Port, with the passenger terminal of Constanta located in the North Port. Both cruise ships and private boats dock here, with an annual traffic capacity of 100,000 people. Located about 1.6 kilometres from the city centre, it is about a 20 minute walk once you are past the gates, although taxis are also available.
- Regional weather
Constanta experiences four distinct seasons throughout the year. The warm continental summer begins in June leading into August, the hottest month of the year. The coldest month by contrast is January.